Getting Made into the Crew
15 April 2010 by Rob Spectre

“As far back as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to be a gangster.” – Henry Hill, Brooklyn, NY 1955

For the past ten months, I’ve been paying the rent by going gonzo for Boxee.  Developing apps on contract for a great portfolio of customers, I’ve managed to eke out a living working on a platform I adore in a space I love.  Sustaining myself by enabling independent content producers to take their content from the computer screen to the living room has marked a highlight of my career – a true labor of love.

Today that labor took a dramatic and exciting new turn – I got made.

As of 15 April, I’ve joined the Boxee team as their new Lead Application Developer.  My assignment is two fold: 1) work with content producers to create the best living room experience their audiences have ever seen and 2) empower and enable developers to make Boxee the easiest and most exciting platform to deliver applications.  In non-corporate speak, get the best artists and coders on the planet and turn them on to the best media center in the world.

Getting made into the Boxee crew is a real privilege and already in my first day I’ve been impressed by the aggressive, high performance atmosphere.  It promises to be a hell of a ride, but of course it raises some natural questions about this site, the Gonzee portfolio of apps and the fate of the spiky-haired gonzo who made them.

1) Will gonzee.tv stay up?

Yup!  It’ll continue to be available as a gonzo resource for anyone interested in Boxee development.  The guide, sample apps, and tips and tricks will always be available at this address.  I’d love to maintain this site simultaneous to my duties at Boxee, but realistically that is not going to happen.  Going forward my contributions to Boxee documentation will more likely than not be more official than this site.

2) What happens to Auto-Tune The News, FailBlog and my other favorite Gonzee apps?

They are my babies and they’ll continue to stay that way.  The code stays with me and updates will happen even more frequently now that I’ll be more closely involved in the platform they are running on.  I’m committed to maintaining my existing portfolio of apps while employed by Boxee, and will continue to make new apps featuring indie comedy I think is breaking new ground.

3) What about hiring you as a contractor for my project?

Unfortunately, my current slate of contracts will be my last.  However, I was only one of a great many talented freelance developers with Boxee experience.  I am happy to refer from a deep roster of great coders to bring your project to Boxee.

4) So, you’re moving to New York? Does that mean you’re going to become a Yankee fan?

While it’s true I’ll be leaving San Francisco to join the team in New York City, I’m not trading in my crimson stockings for Bronx pinstripes just yet.  You can be assured that the only time this nation faithful heads to Yankee Stadium it will be to root on the Red Sox or relieve myself on one of the pillars.

Very stoked to get going and if you’re a Boxee developer looking for help with your app, be sure to check in at the Boxee forums or hit me up at my new home [email protected].

So what your next Boxee app? :)

Resources for Boxee + Twilio Hackathon
10 April 2010 by Rob Spectre

For folks attending the Boxee + Twilio Hackathon, find these resources to help:

Rob’s Presentations (in PowerPoint ick):

You can check out or browse the source code of the demo apps here:


Documentation is here:



May the best app win!

Cuban vs. Ronen – The Tale of the Tape
17 February 2010 by Rob Spectre

Boxee CEO Avner Ronen just announced he is squaring off against HDNet chairman, Dallas Mavericks owner, and sometime-dancer Mark Cuban in a public debate on the future of television at this year’s SXSW.  The bout is the first matchup of the pair since an online exchange from last year where Cuban was critical of Boxee’s open approach to IPTV in favor of the cable industry’s TV Everywhere initiative:

The TV Anywhere solution is the best solution out there. Its the best of both worlds , you just have to subscribe to cable/sat/telco video to get it. Which in fact most people already do. So for most of the US, broadband consuming world, it will be the path of least resistance.

The live rematch will no doubt be a fan favorite pitting veteran blowhard against startup darling, entrenched business models against new technology, and the way things are against the way they should be.  Texas is Cuban’s home turf, but SXSW is an audience heavily favored to Ronen – this bout could easily go either way.

Ronen is willfully accepting the status of underdog for this fight, but how do these two TV warriors measure up on paper?

Let’s look at the tale of the tape…

The fight for the future of television.

Place your bets now!

Boxee Launches New Developer Wiki
15 January 2010 by Rob Spectre

Coming off their *huge* week at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the folks at Boxee have released a revamped information resource for Boxee developers.  Most of the content was written by Boxee’s own Shawn Rieger who has been serving capably as the developer’s man on the inside and features a host of previously underdocumented features such as:

Shawn has put a lot of work into this documentation and it really shows – huge ups to the Boxee crew for continuing their commitment to the open source development community that has sprung up around this project!

Boxee Secures $6M B Round
12 August 2009 by Rob Spectre

Boxee just announced the close of a second round of funding, infusing the company with another $6 million in cash.  Combined with the $4 million raised at the end of 2008, Boxee just hit eight figures to put the screws to the television status quo.  General Catalyst leads the round with participation by Boxee’s previous investors Spark Capital and Union Square Ventures.

It’s a big round in this environment for a pre-revenue startup, an indicator of Boxee’s disruptive potential and solid traction thus far.  But more interesting to the Boxee developer is how the money intends to be spent.  Boxee CEO Avner Ronen details the goodies in store for the dev community:

Attracting more developers – While we have an App Store on Boxee, we know it needs some love. For Developers, we know it needs to be easier to develop and monetize apps. For users, we’re going to make it easier to find apps on Boxee. Last but not least we’re going to extend the APIs so everyone can do more with Boxee.

Sounds like some great stuff soon to be unlocked for us developers, undoubtedly soon to debut in Gonzee apps.

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